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COVID In Minnesota: 1,400 New Cases, 17 More Deaths Reported; 600,000 Vaccine Shots Given

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- As Minnesota continues to expand its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, state health officials reported Thursday 1,410 new cases of the virus and 17 more deaths.

The latest update from the Minnesota Department of Health shows the state's cumulative case count stands at 465,176 while the death toll has reached 6,251. About 63% of the state's deaths have been residents in long-term care facilities, such as nursing homes. Of the most recent deaths reported, nine were residents in long-term care.

Since December, the state has been working to inoculate residents in long-term care and frontline health care workers, the two top priority groups in the state's vaccine rollout plan. Last month, the rollout expanded to include educators, child care workers and Minnesotans ages 65 and up.

This week, the state said some 35,000 doses would go to seniors, who are now able to get shots via local providers. Prior to this week, seniors were only able to get shots at community clinics.

As of Monday, more than 604,864 vaccine doses had been administered in Minnesota, mostly of Pfizer vaccine, according to the state's vaccine data dashboard. Some 475,200 people -- nearly 9% of the state's population -- have received their first shot in the series. Meanwhile, 128,694 people have received both shots, which are spaced weeks apart.

Dr. Michael Osterholm, a prominent epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, called this week for officials to considerably delay the giving of second doses so that more people can get their first dose and develop resistance to the virus and any new strains that might develop. However, health officials say they aren't going to change their rollout plan just yet.

In Minnesota hospitals, 369 people were battling the virus as of Wednesday, with 82 patients in intensive care beds. Hospitalizations have been declining steadily since early December, when nearly 400 patients were in ICU beds, prompting Gov. Tim Walz to tighten restrictions that lasted through the holidays and into the first days of 2021.

In the last 24 hours, 50,330 COVID-19 tests were processed in Minnesota, suggesting a daily positivity rate of 2.8%. As of last Friday, the state's rolling seven-day average positivity rate was at 4.3%, below the 5% "caution" threshold set by health officials.

More than 3.2 million people in Minnesota have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic began last March. Of those who've tested positive, 450,383 have recovered and no longer need to self-isolate.


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